Key insights from our webinar
Many legal professionals have been resistant to the use of innovative technology, and there are probably several reasons for that resistance. Lawyers are, by training and by nature, risk-averse and tend to prefer tried and tested methods when it comes to detailed legal work. It can be challenging to move away from reliable, long proven working methods to an untested system that, at the outset, appears complex, but this is even more so in an industry characterized by so much detail, knowledge and documentation.
Change, however, is beginning to seep into some the working methods of many law firms, and it may be that the sector is getting close to a tipping point, the point when disruption occurs.
A poll taken during the ‘Empowering Today’s Lawyer Through Team Collaboration’ webinar points to a growing desire for change: asked if they have access to effective collaboration tools, only a 25% of the audience replied that they did; asked however if they felt that having access to a collaboration software tool would increase their productivity, there was almost complete agreement – 92% said yes.
We see further signs to a possible transformation of the sector in recent activity at Eversheds Sutherland, a global top 15 law practice with a reputation for innovation. In response to growing demand, Eversheds Sutherland has assembled a team of legal professionals with specific technology expertise to assist their clients in adapting legal technology to meet their needs.
The Eversheds Sutherland team, Propel, has grown organically over the past three years as demand for their services grows. Listen to the webinar recording to hear two Propel team members explain the impact of innovative technology, specifically collaboration tools, on their client’s business.
Outlined below are some critical insights gained from their responses
Change is coming
Three years ago, the Propel team did not exist. What began as a small working group that met with a team of lawyers quarterly has now grown to a dedicated team of 16 over a relatively short period, such is the growing demand from clients. The team provides clients with an end to end legal technology solution specific to their matters and their disputes.
The purpose of the Propel team, and the reason that there is a Propel team, is to help clients use innovation to solve complex challenges, accelerate their business goals, achieve efficiencies and differentiate their offering from those of their competitors.
This is a clear sign of a growing awareness within law firms for the need to stay abreast of the changing commercial and legal environment, the changing demands on their firms, and the need for innovative software tools.
How collaborative tools will change the world of work
It can be challenging for some people to move onto a new platform, to give up a method of working that has served them for years and learn a new way of doing something. Some team members may be unduly intimidated by innovative software and feel that they are too busy to learn a new skill; others may fail to realize the value of the new software. A software demonstration may not be enough to fully expose its power, and therefore fail to persuade. The resistance is understandable to an extent, innovative collaborative software tools, such as Thomson Reuters HighQ, requires people to move away from trusted tools such as Excel spreadsheets, a long-standing trusted tool used by many to track projects and processes.
Collaborative software empowers the sharing of documents, scheduling and communication. It acts as a repository of knowledge that can be accessed by a team member at any time, an incredibly helpful innovation for team members who work across jurisdictions and time zones. It negates the need for email chains with attachment documentation, and its associated time lag. This will produce real time benefits for teams and substantially help to reduce working silos.
Innovation has produced software that is incredibly powerful, intuitive and user-friendly. It can be used straight out of the box, and its design accommodates even the most ‘tech-averse’ user.
Experience has shown that it is the tech-averse user that often becomes a champion of the software as they begin to integrate their working practice and slowly understand the power of the software.
The future of law
The Propel team is an example of what the future of the legal sector will look like – legal professionals who combine both legal and technology expertise. Members of the team are legal professionals who understand that there is a need for a blend of skills in the future and that lawyers and in-house counsel will require specific skills to enable them to access and apply a software toolkit. This blend of skills will redefine the approach to future projects along with how service delivery is managed by legal teams in the future, and will very likely change the way that the legal profession operates.
Experts predict that the legal sector will become more client-centric; different challenges will require different levels of expertise. The new way of working for law firms will demand a far higher level of collaboration between experts and specialists both inside and outside of the firm.
How collaborative tools will change the way of work
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